Nov 21, 2022·edited Nov 21, 2022Liked by Andy @Revkin

Great conversation and many great topics broached. Lex did a great job. The insights on what impact we are really having is sobering and weirdly encouraging given the damage a looming Republican Congress might seem like it could inflict. Probably less than we imagine. I think the big gap in the conversation and a gaping hole in the economic perspective Lomburg takes is the impact our actions have on the natural environment. While I think the point he made around time to improvement from fracking is fair, the fact that all of his cost benefit examples relate to the benefit to humans and ignores the billions of other living organisms on the planet that will also suffer consequences from global warming potentially including annihilation ignores value beyond calculation. If we just think about humans I think we will realise the doom he says is overstated . A planet without a flourishing natural environment will not be worth living on. We all need to bring that value to the fore and I know my children certainly feel that way . I don’t have confidence that the worlds technologists are going to be our saviours. After all, how much has been invested in cryptocurrencies and how positive is that. Personally I think we all need to question the ecological footprint we leave and we know some people have a far bigger footprint than others. Classic tragedy of the commons. And they mostly don't care. They are stealing our children’s future . Case in point : Elon Musk asking developers to fly to San Francisco for a code review for Christ's sake. Reducing consumption has to be a big part of the answer in a finite world.

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Nov 24, 2022Liked by Andy @Revkin

Transatomic is no longer a going concern - since a few years ago. Your position on nuclear while not nearly the worst I've seen is pretty bad- there is no nuclear waste problem, there never has been... when you moved to your new place in Maine did you ask the real estate agent if the place had working waste management system, shower drain, garbage disposal? Probably not- you just assumed that. Now why don't you assume that the folks that designed nuclear power plants thought about waste management?

The nuclear fuel cycle is pretty simple: plants get fuel assemblies shipped in by truck on a regular basis (weekly), they inspect it very closely by hand, then every 18 months or so they put the fuel assemblies in the reactor, where they get hot for 3 years give or take- so here's where it gets slightly more complicated: that fuel is very radioactive now and mist be shielded - water is a perfect shield! So they take the top off the reactor and set that aside - at this point the fuel in the reactor is covered by what water is above it in the reactor vessel an you are looking at hot dangerous fuel - but perfectly safe with plenty of water between you and it. So how do they get the fuel up and out of the reactor? They flood the whole space 32 feet above the lip of the reactor- there is a channel or tube from the reactor containment to the long term cooling pool. The fuel assemblies are either carried upright through the deep channel, or laid down and rolled through a tube- to the cooling pool ( a deep water filled thick concrete holding tank- FOR 10 YEARS. Just sitting there under water- harmless (yes they circulate the water, no it's not a huge deal if those pumps go down) We've been dry cask storing spent fuel since the mid 80s- never been and incident of any kind. No one is interested in spent nuclear fuel. And globally we generate about 2500tons a year- care to guess how much coal ash we make? (hint we have over 1,500,000,000 tons of coal ash in North America alone. There is enough UF6 stacked up in Paducah KT to generate all of US electricity for 1000 years-- give or take. Carbon free. We can get uranium out of seawater. That stuff is everywhere. There are places in Canada where every other rock you trip over is mostly uranium...

After the fuel assemblies have cooled there for a decade - they go into dry casks outside where they take up valuable parking spaces until such time as someone wants to reprocess that fuel into new fuel of burn it in a fast reactor. At this point we don't reprocess fuel because it would be many times more expensive than just burning new fuel- nuclear fuel is cheap (about a 1/5 of what running a gas plant costs) (a gas plant might burn 20% of its capital cost per year... (a $2B plant- just estimating $500,000,000 in fuel costs alone- same in nuclear $75,000,000)

Your statement that wind and solar are growing was it explosively? is absurd- wind and solar don't keep up with increased demand, are grossly unreliable, expensive and hideously slow to deploy- oh I can hear it now "nuclear takes too long" - also just not true when compared to RE - sure gas is 1/4 the build time- and cheaper (money is such a poor metric when it comes to life on Earth though- but hey that's just me) Long term straight up accounting - 15 years down the road nukes are cash cows.

But we all know there is no straight up accounting when it come to nuclear (everything costs twice as much because of strangulating regulators that kill nuclear with fees (to wit a large portion of the $1.1B grant PG&E is getting to keep Diablo Canyon up and running will go straight back into the NRC- hundreds of millions of dollars in paper work which will amount to more than the cost of fueling that same plant. That is absurd.

No one ever mentions Price-Anderson. There's billions just sitting there.

Sorry to be so blunt Andrew but you need to, we need you to, up your game here and stand up for nuclear.

Emissions first, peace and justice will follow.

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Nov 20, 2022Liked by Andy @Revkin

Your conversation with Lomborg, moderated by Lex Fridman, was fascinating. I particularly appreciated your advice to young people. I've been able to watch 1/3rd of it so far. My major criticism is that I thought you and Lomborg downplayed the worst case climate change scenario, which I understand to be the risk of triggering multiple tipping points at ~1.5 deg C of global warming and given that risk the need for urgent actions to restrain global warming to 1.5 deg C or as close to that as possible, per the precautionary principle.

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Both agree in Anthropogenic Global Warming, but neither ventures to say how much is man induced.

The earth has warmed and cooled 5 or 6 times during the Holocene without fossil fuels or extensive farming. A scientific mind would try to understand what caused these other warming and cooling periods before declaring a climate crisis with a scientific basis. CO2, N2O and CH4 all have limited affects and water vapor is the major GHG.

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Andy, have you looked at the competing model for how an atmosphere warms a planet by Nikolov and Zeller? If you haven't already you should watch PhD Physical Scientist Ned Nikolov's presentation before deciding between the Greenhouse model and the Nikolov-Zeller model. You can watch his video "Demystifying" on his YouTube channel "Truth & Insights". Thanks, and enjoy! https://youtu.be/gnt9YZyCTAQ

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I want Curry, Mann and Hansen in the same room. Open discussion. That’s the starting points for all of this: science. Not opinions from pop economists or policy wonks.

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Nov 29, 2022·edited Nov 29, 2022

I'm new to substack as well- but i am not new to nuclear or the debate thereof- or LACK of debate. Sick to death of it. Emissions are the defining issue of our time, ignore that at our own peril. The issue is that there is no debate for me. I simply cannot reason with someone that believes without evidence- ie that nuclear waste is dangerous, that any radiation causes cancer, that radiation is this that and something else... it is not. It's not a mystery, unlikely that you or anyone else will ever come in contact with harmful doses is -- well only greater than zero. If I say zero someone (who doesn't get it obviously) will call me on. Like your chances of getting covid off a french fry... only greater than zero. As far as conflict dispute- here re nuclear for me that's like debating on the existence of the number 7.

You have conflated nuclear energy with weapons of war (nuclear weapons are just weapons the fact that they are nuclear means bigger boom for less weight- much less weight. The nuclear fallout is not trivial but compared to the explosion, no not relevant) Peaceful nuclear has little to do with weapons. Don't forget that. Done with this issue. (if you have questions glad to answer, but at some point I will insist that you stipulate to the facts... so that we can all move on from that forever)

Nuclear waste dominates the issue. In real life - nuclear fuel is boring. (Andrew has a picture of me with a fuel assembly mock up- I can't post it. I love that stuff! Talk about all day...

Nuclear waste is not and has not been a problem, and likely never will be. Every nuclear power plant has systems designed for the handling of spent nuclear fuel AND plenty of space to store ALL the spent nuclear fuel it will burn in its lifetime (say 80 years) (we can and do move spent nuclear fuel after 20-30 years cooling and it can be reprocessed into new fuel... but that costs money and time. It's much cheaper, easier and cleaner to burn new fuel- but the real story is how much of it there is: 2500 tons per year globally. All 450 reactors or so only make 2500 tons of what you call "nuclear waste".

No one has ever been killed or even seriously hurt handling SNF.

Contrast the with 750,000,000 tons of coal ash waste per year globally. The digits tell the story.



How many zeros for the CO2? The digits tell the story.

Since the 80s when we started dry cask storage of spent nuclear fuel (not waste!) - not one incident, not one.

And just like that, I'm done with the nuclear waste issue* (questions sure, go ahead, glad to... prepare to stipulate)

Will peace and justice follow? Well my friend we are weaponizing both nuclear and gas even as we speak.

Unrelated I'll note that Zoporizhia is a $14B asset and isn't blown up yet but that Nordstream gas pipeline is.

Pretty hard to destroy a nuclear power plant. Making a big ugly mess on the other hand is pretty darn easy. Destroying new fuel is pointless. Destroying used fuel would be hmmm dunno how hard that would be? Guessing it's under at least 30 feet of water (maybe more) and not really easy to get out of those pools even with a big bomb (missile? would suck) but you're still only faced with a big ugly hard to clean up local (certainly not regional) mess. Doubtful anyone would be killed by radiation. Explosions kill people. Radiation not so much (ie Hiroshima and Nagasaki - very few killed by the radiation mostly by fire and the explosion. Done with Putin and nuclear power plant wars. That guy is evil, don't conflate clean safe reliable nuclear energy into his war. Way more people will die without nuclear energy there now. Nuclear saves lives.

Cancer rates have gone all over the world. 40M dose of nuclear medical isotopes come straight out of a reactor every year. Nuclear medicine saves lives. Done.

Natural gas and the Haber-Bosch process have saved more people from suffering and misery than any other technology. Vaccines are second. It would take 200 large reactors to replace steam reforming for fertilizer the fertilizer we need globally. People die from lack of fertilizer.

Nuclear powered desalination will change the world- massive desal makes nuclear look small cheap and easy. Nuclear could feed the world. Overnight we need 20,000 reactors.


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Nov 27, 2022·edited Nov 27, 2022

Hi andrew,

this interview was the first time I’ve consciously come across your work.

My question I was left with was from early on. I was thinking how can this guy (you) not challenge the idea of fracking being a good idea?

I see the promotion of fracking as a symptom of the very carbon fundamentalism I think you oppose.

If the problem at a deeper level is that there is inadequate understanding of ecology (and climate) then surely it’s obvious that the destructive processes of fracking are at a deeper level counter productive . Seeming quick fixes that don’t deliver.

Would you like to comment on that?

Basically it left me wanting to ascertain if you are a credible source of information for me. I otherwise appreciated your perspective.

This was a glaring opportunity to open up just how reductionist thinking leads to industrial strategy co-opting ecological concern for short term gain at long term expense .

Did you duck it for a reason ? Or are you in support of fracking? That’s what I’d like to know!

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Joined just now. Watched/listened to the whole 4 hours today. Finally, a fair/civil discussion regarding climate and other germane topics. All involved came across as multi-dimensional. Will leave my questions on climate for another time!

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